You never know when you’re about to face trial. If only trial would call you up and warn you when it was coming into your life.
“Hey man! It’s your old friend, trial! Yeah! It has been a while. How’s your mom and them? Good, good! Hey listen, I was thinking about moving in for a bit starting on the . . . . hmmm . . . let’s see . . . the 13th of this month? How’s that sound? Your calendar clear? Ok great. We’ll see you soon!”
If only it would happen like that. Then maybe we could prepare for adversity. Then maybe we could, as my friend Pastor Levi Lusko writes in his book Through the Eyes of a Lion, “train for the trial we’re not yet in.”
You never know when you’re about to face trial.
Kristi and I just flipped a house! I know, I know, before the Chip and Joanna Gaines comments begin to flood this post (especially since my wife looks strikingly similar to Joanna) I want to tell you why we did it. It certainly isn’t because we were bored or had an abundance of free time on our hands. That’s the furthest thing from reality. It isn't because we're looking at house-flipping as a new career path. I’m still pastoring and hopefully always will and she’s still in PA school. And no, we didn’t flip the house we live in. We flipped a rental property. And we have a strong reason for doing so even amidst the chaos of our lives.
As I stood on the banks of the Jordan River for the first time since April 2016, God brought me back to all the feelings, all the tears, all the stomach clenching pain that accompanied my first trip to Israel. And as I walked away from the muddy waters of the Jordan I saw things clearer than I ever have. God had just brought me full circle. Back to the Place of the Crossing. Back to the healing waters of the Jordan. In a very short amount of time He’d allowed me to experience the loss of the most precious person in my life, suffer through the aftermath of that, find hope and healing in Him, and then bring someone precious into my life again . . . God’s redemptive story for my life coming full circle once again.
The enemy would love for you to believe you’re alone in your journey — that you’re the only one dealing with the pain you’re currently undergoing.
The truth is there are hundreds, maybe thousands of people who are walking through very similar trials as you. When your eyes are opened up to this, it makes your problems seem much smaller in the light of the larger picture of pain in this world.
Every year for the past several years I’ve identified a word for the year. I used to only choose a word for our church. Now I choose a word for our church and a word for our family. In the past the word has often been based on a concept or an idea that I couldn’t get off my mind. It usually spawned from lessons The Lord was teaching me the final couple months of the previous year. I’ve always want this word to provide us with a unified sense of purpose and direction for the coming year - in one case for our volunteers and staff, and in the other for my family.